Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
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This evening's music features the smoothest bluesman ever, Charles Brown. Enjoy!
Charles Brown - Fool's Paradise
News and Opinion
Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, dies aged 95
South Africa's first black president died peacefully in company of his family at home in Johannesburg, Jacob Zuma announces
Nelson Mandela, the towering figure of Africa's struggle for freedom and a hero to millions around the world, has died at the age of 95.
South Africa's first black president died in the company of his family at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health that had caused him to withdraw from public life. ...
"This is the moment of our deepest sorrow," Zuma said. "Our nation has lost its greatest son … What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
"Nelson Mandela: a noble reminder that those declared "criminals" by an unjust society are often the most just."
-- Glenn Greenwald
United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid
We should remember that for much of the West in the Cold War, South Africa’s thriving capitalist economy was what was important. Its resources were important. Its government, solely staffed by Afrikaners and solely for Afrikaners, was seen as a counter-weight to Soviet and Communist influence in Africa. Washington in the 1980s obsessed about Cuba’s relationship to Angola (yes). ...
The US considered the African National Congress to be a form of Communism, and sided with the racist Prime Ministers Hendrik Verwoerd and P.W. Botha against Mandela.
Decades later, in the 1980s, the United States was still supporting the white Apartheid government of South Africa, where a tiny minority of Afrikaaners dominated the economy and refused to allow black Africans to shop in their shops or fraternize with them, though they were happy to employ them in the mines. Ronald Reagan declared Nelson Mandela, then still in jail, a terrorist, and the US did not get around to removing him from the list until 2008!
Likewise British PM Margaret Thatcher befriended Botha and castigated Mandela’s ANC as terrorists. As if the Afrikaners weren’t terrorizing the black majority! She may have suggested to Botha that he release Mandela for PR purposes, but there is not any doubt on whose side she stood.
The Israeli government had extremely warm relations with Apartheid South Africa, to the point where Tel Aviv offered the Afrikaners a nuclear weapon (presumably for brandishing at the leftist states of black Africa). ... In the US, the vehemently anti-Palestinian Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco spied on American anti-Apartheid activists on behalf of the Apartheid state. If the ADL ever calls you a racist, you can revel in the irony.
Dick Cheney Didn't Regret His Vote Against Freeing Nelson Mandela, Maintained He Was A 'Terrorist'
In  the U.S. Congress, lawmakers were ready to show their opposition to the South African regime with the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, a bill that called for tough sanctions and travel restrictions on the nation and its leaders, and for the repeal of apartheid laws and release of political prisoners like [Nelson] Mandela, then leader of the African National Congress (ANC).
The measure passed with bipartisan support, despite strong and largely Republican opposition. President Ronald Reagan was among those most opposed to the bill, and when he finally vetoed the measure over its support of the ANC, which he maintained was a "terrorist organization," it took another vote by Congress to override it. Among the Republicans who repeatedly voted against the measure was future Vice President Dick Cheney, then a Republican congressman from Wyoming.
Cheney's staunch resistance to the Anti-Apartheid Act arose as an issue during his future campaigns on the presidential ticket, but the Wyoming Republican has never said he regretted voting the way he did. In fact, in 2000, he maintained that he'd made the right decision.
“The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization," Cheney said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.''
Snowden and Greenwald: The Men Who Leaked the Secrets
How two alienated, angry geeks broke the story of the year
Greenwald is a former litigator whose messianic defense of civil liberties has made him a hero of left-libertarian circles, though he has alienated elites across the political spectrum. Famously combative, he "lives to piss people off," as one colleague says. And in the past eight years he has done an excellent job: taking on Presidents Bush and Obama, Congress, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, the Republicans, the "liberal establishment" and, notably, the mainstream media, which he accuses – often while being interviewed by those same mainstream, liberal-establishment journalists – of cozying up to power. "I crave the hatred of those people," Greenwald says about the small, somewhat incestuous community of Beltway pundits, government officials, think-tank experts and other opinion-makers he targets routinely. "If you're not provoking that reaction in people, you're not provoking or challenging anyone, which means you're pointless."
U.S. Spy Rocket Launching Today Has Octopus-Themed 'Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach' Logo. Seriously.
The Office of National Intelligence is very excited about sending a rocket into space today with a bunch of new satellites and is live tweeting its launch. This would usually be a cute display of social media, along the lines of NASA getting the world excited about its Mars Curiosity Rover, except these are spy satellites that will likely be used to gather communications flotsam and who knows what else from people around the world. That’s a touchy subject these days what with the Snowden leaks and constant new revelations about cell phones being turned into location trackers, the listening in on foreign leaders’ phone calls and the vacuuming up of any information sent digitally that’s not encrypted.
Revealed: How the Nsa Targets Italy
A special unit operating under cover and protected by diplomatic immunity, assigned to a very sensitive mission: to spy on the communication of the Italian leadership. That is what top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published in Italy exclusively by l'Espresso in collaboration with "la Repubblica" reveal. A file mentions the "Special Collection Service " (SCS) sites in Rome and in Milan, the very same service which, according to the German weekly "Der Spiegel ", spied on the mobile phone of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. "Special Collection Sites", reads the file published today by l'Espresso, "provide considerable perishable intelligence on leadership communications largely facilitated by site presence within a national capital".
These documents are very important because they contradict recent statements by the Italian Prime Minister reassuring the Italian Parliament. Speaking to the Chamber of Deputies four weeks ago, Enrico Letta said: "Based on the analysis conducted by our intelligence services and our international contacts, we are not aware that the security of the communications of the Italian government and embassies has been compromised, nor are we aware that the privacy of Italian citizens has been compromised". These top secret documents tell a different story, however. ...
Snowden's files reveal that, at least until 2010, the Special Collection Service maintained two sites in Italy: one in Rome, a base staffed with agents, and one in Milan, the capital of the Italian economy where, according to a file dated 2010 and originally published in Der Spiegel, the SCS would run an unmanned site. Two sites in a relatively small country like Italy is unusual: only in Germany -- a prime target for NSA in Europe -- does SCS maintain two bases.
Snowden's files entirely contradict our Prime Minister on another key issue: NSA espionage against our diplomacy. Although the British press had published some information on these activities, Enrico Letta declared to the Chamber of Deputies: "we are not aware that the security of the communications of the Italian government and embassies has been compromised". However, the files obtained by l'Espresso clearly describe spying activities against our Embassy in Washington DC. ...
NSA's mass spying activities did not target our leadership and diplomacy alone, but it possibly also targeted millions of Italian citizens. A file on the top secret programme "Boundless Informant" that is labeled "Italy" reveals that between December 10, 2012 and January 9, 2013, the NSA collected the metadata for 45.893.570 telephone calls.
Patriot Act author: Obama’s intel czar should be prosecuted
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.
"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.
He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.
During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not — or at least does "not wittingly" — collect information on Americans in bulk.
After documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, Clapper apologized for the misleading comment.
The intelligence director said he tried to give the "least untruthful" answer he could without revealing classified information.
Sensenbrenner said that explanation doesn’t hold water and argued the courts and Congress depend on accurate testimony to do their jobs.
More misinformation on the NSA
Back in October, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at a public hearing that the National Security Agency was collecting information on the location of American cell phones – a statement that the intelligence committee staff director later denied vehemently in phone conversations and emails with McClatchy. Feinstein, he said, had misspoken. ...
The story had barely been posted when David Grannis, staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, contacted McClatchy and insisted that Feinstein had been speaking “extemporaneously” and had “mistakenly” said the NSA collected location data.
“The NSA does not collect locational information on Americans or non-Americans inside the United States without a court order. No other agency in the Intelligence Community does so either," Grannis said in an email.
The specificity of the response, however, left some wiggle room, so McClatchy contacted Grannis for clarification: Did he mean that the NSA wasn't collecting location data under any program, including those authorized outside of USA Patriot Act's Section 215, the law under which NSA had been authorized to collect the records from cell phone companies?
Grannis said that was the correct way to read his statement.
The incident is just the latest example of instances in which intelligence officials and their chief overseers have misled the press and the public on the extent of the agency’s operations.
Humanitarian Intervention, Or Militarized Quest for Resources?
As a "humanitarian crisis that has been largely ignored by the rest of the world" continues to grip the Central African Republic (CAR) on Thursday, new military forces are on their way to intervene, causing some to question the motives when a country with military might sends troops into its resource-rich, former colony.
The UN Security Council on Thursday authorized the deployment of African-led and French-backed forces there, the same day clashes in the capital of Bangui left over 100 dead. ...
While most reporting on the violence that has rocked the central African nation since a coup in March portrays the root of the problem as sectarian, international studies lecturer Rob Prince says that France's role should not be overlooked, writing that "France has been much more a part of the problem the C.A.R. faces than a part of any solution."Of course omitted from France’s concern about the human rights tragedy unfolding in the Central African Republic is Paris’ history – uninterrupted over the past 125 years – of exploiting the country’s rich national resources and manipulating the country’s political system through the employment of France’s Africa holy quartet: intelligence, bribery, special forces intervention, control and manipulation of mercenary forces to undermine any political leader or movement that challenges French corporate interests. Indeed, France’s involvement in the C.A.R. is yet another fine example of how ”liberty, equality and fraternity” translates into “repression, glaring inequality and ethnic hatred” in France’s former African colonies.
Beneath the surface of France’s concern is a new, more militarized posture – under the New Age pretext of humanitarian intervention – to re-militarize its role in Africa that has included its military role in recent times in Libya, Mali, Niger (where its military force has been reinforced) and the C.A.R. The common unspoken denominator in all these cases? Uranium (Mali, Niger, C.A.R.) and oil (Libya). Concerned about the Chinese-U.S. African energy/mineral offensive of the past decade, France is nervous about shoring up its influence on the continent that is one of the key sources of French prosperity: the ongoing, never-ending resource rape of Africa. Few comments could be more disingenuous than French President Francois Hollande explaining the recent French military role in Mali: “We have no vested interests here; this is a humanitarian venture.” Is it only a French audience would be fool enough to believe that? It has about the same credibility as George W. Bush (or was it Rumsfeld?) arguing that invading Iraq was “not about oil.”
If military intervention is temporarily possible to freeze the violence, France is equally concerned about protecting its vast economic interests in uranium, diamonds, gold rare timber and tobacco which makes the C.A.R. one of France’s most valuable African assets, all of which France has extracted – if not downright looted – from the time the region came under French colonial control in the 1890s. Since the country’s 1960 independence, France has been much more a part of the problem the C.A.R. faces than a part of any solution. In fact, while nominally independent, the country has remained both economically and politically very much of an informal French Colony and an integral part of a system put in place by Charles De Gaulle at the end of the 1950s which is referred to as “Francafrique.“
Scenes from Ukraine you aren’t seeing on American TV
Los Angeles film producer Ben Moses was visiting Kiev recently when all hell broke loose.
He was in Europe for a showing of his new documentary, A Whisper to a Roar, which portrays democracy movements in Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. But then, well, let’s let Ben explain what happened in an e-mail he sent to friends…
“I came over from Warsaw, where our film is headlining a film festival, to visit my friend Andriy Shevchenko — the member of Parliament we featured in the film. I arrived in this capital city to find a full-fledged (so far peaceful) revolution taking place within three blocks of my hotel.” ...
Moses captured scenes from the protest, and then put together a very brief film to give his friends a sense of what things are like over there.
Conservative think tank SPN coordinating right-wing assault on education, healthcare and the environment in 34 statesFrom the Democrats that need to go department:
Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as “free-market thinktanks”, includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.
The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states, providing a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014. In partnership with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the Guardian is publishing SPN’s summary of all the proposals to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.
Why Is a Senate Democrat Debbie Stabenow Agreeing to Another $8 Billion in Food Stamp Cuts?
On the same day that President Obama eloquently described his vision of an economy defined by economic mobility and opportunity for all, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman was busy cutting a deal with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to slice another $8 to $9 billion from food stamps (SNAP), according to a source close to the negotiations.
“One study shows that more than half of Americans will experience poverty at some point during their adult lives,” said President Obama. “Think about that. This is not an isolated situation.… That’s why we have nutrition assistance or the program known as SNAP, because it makes a difference for a mother who’s working, but is just having a hard time putting food on the table for her kids.”
Indeed it does, but the chairwoman consistently fails to get the memo.
“That was the first time in history that a Democratic-controlled Senate had even proposed cutting the SNAP program,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “The willingness of some Senate Democrats to double new cuts to the program…is unthinkable.”
US unemployment falls to lowest level for five years as 203,000 jobs added
Bureau of Labor Statistics announces 7% unemployment rate
Unemployment in the US fell to 7% in November, its lowest level in five years , as employers took on 203,000 new people.
The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may have been bolstered by the return of hundreds of thousands of federal employees following October’s government shutdown but they still represent the fourth straight month of good growth in the jobs market. November’s gain followed a 200,000 gain in October, revised down from an initial estimate of 204,000.
The latest number was far higher than the 180,000 gain economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected. Jobs growth has averaged 193,00 a month over the last three months. ...
But while the jobs report was stronger than expected, problems remain. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 12.5%, more than twice the 6.2% rate for white Americans. For Hispanics the rate is 8.7%.
The number of long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks or more – was essentially unchanged at 4.1 million in November. These individuals accounted for 37.3% of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 718,000 over the past 12 months.
A Peek Beneath the Cooked Unemployment Numbers Reveals No Change
More accurate, long-term measure of employment reveals that no action that the Obama administration has pursued to fix unemployment has been meaningfully successful.
McDonald’s advises workers protesting low wages how to tip ‘golf pro’ and ‘dock attendant’
While many McDonald’s employees are protesting their low-wages and demanding $15-an-hour pay, the fast-food company is advising them how to spend their disposable income this holiday season.
According to NBC News, McDonald’s reprinted Emily Post’s End of Summer Tipping Guide” on its employee outreach website. The guide offered suggestions as to how much McDonald’s minimum-wage employees should tip their “regular caddy,” “tennis or golf pro” and “pool cleaner.”
It also suggested that McDonald’s employees tip their “dock attendant” between $20 and $50 for his or her services.
Pittsburgh protesters temporarily shut down restaurants
Hundreds of protesters calling for an increase in the minimum wage flooded into McDonald's at the corner of Stanwix Street and Liberty Avenue this morning shutting down the restaurant for a period of time.
The protesters had started by shutting down the Dunkin Donuts in Market Square, at 6 a.m. chanting "What do we want? 15 dollars. When do we want it? Now." and "If we don't get it, shut it down."
Both fast food restaurants were unable to serve customers for a period of time, with Dunkin Donuts completely closed for nearly an hour before customers started to line back up for donuts and coffee.
The Evening Greens
Radioactive Fukushima Water Headed for US West Coast
As nuclear industry and allies in government play down risk, scientists warn there is no such thing as safe radiation
Radioactive water contaminated by Japan's ravaged Fukushima nuclear plant will soon reach the west coast of the United States, according to Chairwoman of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Allison Macfarlane, Bloomberg reports.
As the nuclear industry and its allies in government attempt to play down the danger of the contaminated ocean waters, scientists warn there is no such thing as safe radiation.
“The highest amount of radiation that will reach the U.S. is two orders of magnitude — 100 times — less than the drinking water standard," Macfarlane told Bloomberg. "So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.” ...
Yet, scientists warn that claims that radiation is not harmful are deceptive.
Over 800 people across the world will get cancer from consuming fish that were contaminated with Fukushima radiation in Japanese waters by mid-July, 2013, according to newspaper Georgia Straight calculations based on a cancer risk formula developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and radiation levels in fish tested by the Japanese Fisheries Agency.
This is likely only the tip of the iceberg, explained Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear-policy lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, in an interview with Georgia Straight. The number 800 does not account for future fish consumption, unmonitored damaged isotopes released by the Fukushima disaster and a host of other factors that could drastically increase cancer rates, he explained.
Death of Yellowstone's Most Famous Wolf Is a Troubling Sign of Things to Come
The alpha female of Yellowstone's Lamar Canyon pack may have been the most famous wolf in the world. Endlessly photographed and admired by thousands of visitors to the national park, this matriarch of Yellowstone -- often known by her number, 832F -- made the cover of American Scientist and was discussed at length in the pages of the New York Times.
With a gorgeous gray coat and fearless spirit, she was a true rock star from the wolf world. Sadly, a year ago this Friday, 832F crossed the invisible boundary of the national park, entering Wyoming, and was gunned down by a hunter.
Wolf hunting is legal now in Wyoming and several other states because politicians in Congress -- not the scientists in charge of wolf recovery -- stripped away Endangered Species Act protections in five states in 2011. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to take away protections for nearly all wolves across the rest of the lower 48.
[T]he Obama administration has proposed to remove protections for wolves across most of the country. With numbers going down from hunts and protections gone, wolf recovery that is broadly supported by a strong majority of the American public, has cost taxpayers millions, benefits ecosystems, and is a tremendous Endangered Species Act success story will be flushed down the drain.
Worst-Case Scenario for Oil Sands Industry Has Come to Life, Leaked Document Shows
Industry consultants said anti-tar sands push could become 'the most significant environmental campaign of the decade' if activists were left unopposed.
As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada's tar sands three years ago, one of the world's biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans. ...
The December 2010 presentation by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Texas, mostly advised oil sands companies to ignore or limit reaction to the then-burgeoning tar sands opposition movement because "activists lack influence in politics." But there was a buried warning for industry under one scenario: Letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about "the most significant environmental campaign of the decade."
"This worst-case scenario is exactly what has happened," partly because opposition to tar sands development has expanded beyond nonprofit groups to include individual activists concerned about climate change, said Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace. "The more people in America see Superstorm Sandys or tornadoes in Chicago, the more they are waking up and joining the fight."
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Charles Brown - Driftin' Blues
Charles Brown - I Stepped In Quicksand
Charles Brown - Joyce's Boogie
Charles Brown - Black Night
Buster Poindexter and Charles Brown - You Do Something To Me
Charles Brown - Trouble Blues
Charles Brown - Rockin' Blues
Charles Brown - Lonesome Feeling
Charles Brown w/Bonnie Raitt - Someone To Love
Charles Brown - Hard Times
Bonnie Raitt, Ruth Brown, Charles Brown - Never Make Your Move to Soon
Charles Brown & Johnny Moore´s Three Blazers - It Aint Gonna Be Like That
Charles Brown - Bad, Bad Whiskey
Charles Brown & Amos Milburn - I Want To Go Home
Charles Brown - Big Legged Woman
Charles Brown-Trouble No More
Charles Brown - Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
Charles Brown - Regardless
Charles Brown - Please Believe Me
Charles Brown - I don't know
Charles Brown & Amos Milburn - Educated Fool
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
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